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Warning: there are major spoilers for the Arrow episode “Nanda Parbat” ahead! If you haven’t watched it yet, turn back now and click on another one of our wonderful articles.
Arrow fans have been taught to expect the unexpected on a weekly basis, but Season 3’s main antagonist just changed the game in an unexpected way in the episode's promised cliffhanger. After Thea hands off Malcolm to the League of Assassins to pay for his crimes (specifically the Undertaking and being responsible for Sara Lance’s death), Oliver and Diggle attempt to rescue Malcolm from Nanda Parbat. To no one’s surprise, the prison break didn’t go as planned. Brought before Ra’s al Ghul in the final minutes of the episode, Oliver asks to be killed, and for Diggle's life to be spared, but Ra’s calmly tells Oliver that he doesn’t plan on killing him. Instead he gives him a proposal: to become the next Ra’s al Ghul.
Yes, Oliver Queen, Starling’s City’s bow-wielding vigilante, has just been offered the role of leader of the League of Assassins. What the what?
Ra’s has been touted as this season’s main villain since last year, but after seeing Oliver feuding Malcolm and Slade Wilson, having the enemy actually offer him something beyond a quick demise is a wild twist. Like in the comics, Ra’s al Ghul translates to “The Demon’s Head,” but in this universe, the name seems to be a title rather than a name. One would think that this title would go to whoever is next in the bloodline, but as Malcolm hinted, Ra’s disapproval of Nyssa’s relationship with Sara has stunted her chances of taking over.
Ra’s has been leading this campaign against injustice for a while (his advanced age was hinted at further in this episode), but it seems that he now wants someone else to take over, and he feels that Oliver would make a worthy successor. From stabbing him in the chest to giving him the keys to the kingdom. A lot can change in the span of a few months, though it’s doubtful Ra’s is doing this for purely selfless reasons.
This proposal is an interesting change-up on the relationship Ra’s has with Batman in the comics. Despite being one the Caped Crusader’s greatest villains, Ra’s respects Bruce Wayne as a detective and warrior, and has on several occasions tried to name him his successor. Since Oliver is serving the role of the non-powered vigilante with cool gadgets in this world, it seems fitting that he would get the same offer that Batman received.
Oliver has spent this season trying to protect Thea from Ra’s and nearly got killed by the man, but now that Ra’s has made this offer, this significantly changes their relationship. Ra’s has been labeled "evil” by many, but if Oliver believes that taking over the League would help him in his quest, he will seriously consider the offer. However, he should also be cautious, since like many villains in movies and TV shows, Ra’s probably has a trick or two up his sleeve.
Hypothetically speaking, if Oliver were to take Ra’s’ place, he would have to enact some major changes within the organization. Season 1 Oliver might have been comfortable leading a group called the League of Assassins, but given his current no-kill rule, he wouldn’t stand for his subordinates globe-trotting to snuff people out. Perhaps a rebranding as the League of Shadows is in order?
Regardless, we’ll learn what Oliver’s reaction is to Ra’s al Ghul’s proposal when Arrow returns from its hiatus on March 18.